We welcome back the sun and say goodbye to some negative energy
Being an old pagan bunch with roots all over the northern world, our crew here at the Woodshed Autonomous Zone has a bonfire every winter solstice. We do this to call the sunlight back just as our ancestors did. So far it’s always worked.
Our particular tradition starts in the bunker with the wood stove cranking and a Christmas feast of roast goose breast and venison, sauerbraten, pickled fish, flat bread, potatoes and squash, flaky tarts and strudels of homemade mince, apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg. We toast the year gone by with 90 proof Aquavit that Sven has shipped over from Norway. That goes with local beers from the keg cellar Sonny dug into the side of the bunker. Rich guys have wine cellars. We have a beer cellar. To each his own.
We toast family, friends, each other…toast to the good that happened; full woodsheds, full pantries and freezers. Clean air, clean water, old forests, living on the other side of the world from the Middle East. Not living in big cities.
We toast the bad, as well. And then, by tradition, before we go out to the bonfire, we write down things we don’t want to bring into the new year on a piece of wood which we throw in the flames so that bad energy can go off into the universe and get recycled into good energy. Different guys write down different things. Sometimes they talk about it. If it’s personal, like a bad relationship, or a thing they wished they hadn’t done, they usually don’t. Better to write it on wood, let it go.
For 2020 most of us wrote down Covid, which killed so many people but at least kept cruise ships out of Southeast Alaska. We talked about that. We talked about those hurricane force winds last October that blew in from the Gulf and knocked down hundreds of big trees, and almost flatted Roy’s house and shop. We each got an extra couple cords of wood there. Since all of us were already three winters ahead on firewood before the storm, not all the wives and neighbors were so happy to see a few more tons of wood in our yards as you might think. We had a toast to the wives and neighbors. We talked about that landslide that sent a hundred foot tree straight through old Megan Tenny’s house like a javelin. We toasted the F/V Wanderer, deck loaded with halibut, when Jack Chadwick had her on auto pilot and ran her smack into the Khaz Breakers on a clear, sunny day.”
And we talked about our exalted winners of the top black racist awards of 2020.
Roy started that. He said, “I propose a toast. See here on this piece of wood I’ve carved WAZ 2020 and I’m going to give it to the fire. All the time I sunk on it this year and I STILL find myself looking up those gasbags over and over, which I never used to, and for what? It’s endless. Endless. Endless! Racist, millionaire, victims. One-trick-ponies that don’t know how to troubleshoot an engine, reef a sail, make a proper mortise and tenon joint … Nothing I can use.”
Sven said, “Well I’ll be go to hell, I been doing the same thing. Me and Sissy been married forty years and I never looked at another woman so much as I looked at Monica Cannon Grant last year. Monica though, she shut up, you know. Went from a bilge-mouth-fog-horn-Boston Citizen of the Year, to nothing. Off the radar, yust like that.”
Ira said, “People making as much money and splash as her don’t just fall off the radar for no reason, Sven. What happened?”
“Well, by golly,” Sven said, “You guys had some questions about where all them donations to her ‘Violence in Boston’ hoo-hah went. The Feds did too. Lot of questions. Especially after Monica’s Director went to buy himself a nice house in a nice neighborhood and claimed Violence in Boston’s assets were his own money on the loan application. ‘Bout four hundred, fifty grand, they say.”
Tim said, “But you can’t blame her for what her Director did.”
“Maybe some people can’t.” Sven shrugged, “But, if she’s in charge of the whole deal, and she’s married to that guy, and she gonna live in that house, maybe they can. Oh yah, and besides, looks like the guy was scamming that Covid relief money from the government saying he couldn’t work, at the same time he was making 70 thousand a year plus shoveling money from the non-profit into his own pockets.”
“Wait a minute.” Tommy said, “To collect that pandemic money someone has to sign an affidavit every week that they can’t work. Every signature on one of those would be a nail in your coffin at court. He’d have to be a complete idiot. Maybe he made a mistake and collected an extra check or two.”
“Maybe.” Sven nodded, “He yust make a mistake…sixty-eight times.”
That sent a gasp around the room, “Whoa!”
Sven wrote something on a piece of wood. “Anyway, goodbye to that dame, and him, and ‘Violence in Boston’.”
Tony laughed, “I’ve been doing it, too. Looking up the latest on Black Lives Matter. And you know what? They got pretty quiet, themselves. You guys notice that? AND! Same, same. Lot of questions about where tens of millions in donations evaporated to. Patrisse Khan-Cullors, who founded Black Lives Matter? She bailed out of the franchise. Not to worry, though. Squeaking by financially. She and her wife own four mansions now.”
Roy waved his hand, “Did you say four?”
“Yeah.” Tony said.
“A radical Marxist with four houses?”
“One’s in a neighborhood with it’s own private airstrip. Her latest mansion is in one of the whitest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Could be out of date saying just four. Post says she’s been looking at property in the Bahamas. Anyway, she got out while the getting’s good. Donations tanking. Public support down the drain. Riots? Not much left. Getting harder all the time to play the race card. So many people, especially black people, getting beat up, and shot, and stabbed by other black people that most of the BLM race baiters who were shouting ‘Defund the police’ in 2020 are keeping their heads down now and whining about ‘Where are the police?’”
Tony wrote something on his piece of firewood. “I won’t miss those guys.”
NuGene spoke up next, “Well friends,” says he. “Possible we have a pattern here. I’ve been watching Shaun King implode. You remember how all those urban caballeros who used to ride herd on his cash cows called him out about where the donation money went? Now, add that to how he posted names of innocent white men accusing them of rape and murder and his followers were threatening those men’s families. Well, it appears Shaun drank that social media snake oil that makes influencers forget Karma is real. And that’s how, this year, Karma gave Shaun’s pale ass a whuppin with the paddle of righteousness.’
Roy said, “All in favor of Gene getting to the point say, ‘Aye.’”
Gene curled his lip, “The peanut gallery has a short attention span. Too much television in your formative years. Now, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted. This year Shaun King sent his couple million followers a twit, or whatever they call it, asking them to send donations to his wife who was trying to get through school. Couple weeks later it comes out that Shaun’s wife just bought a house. Not just any old house. Not a fixer-upper. No, no. This was a place a guy like me would call a mansion, five bedrooms, four bathrooms, gourmet kitchen…on a lake in New Jersey. Shaun be outed. A whole lot of people were probably thinking their money could be better spent on beer and tobacco than on a mansion for Shaun King to hang his hat, but where the Karma really landed was that someone posted his new manse address on the internet and people were driving by taking pictures of it. So what does Shaun do? He goes wailing to his followers about how mean and terrible it was to put a family’s name and address on the internet where who knows who might see it and do who knows what? How could they? Shaun said he had to move out. ‘Course there were calls to his followers to cough up moving expenses. Sharon Stone said he could stay in her guest house. It’s ‘…behind guarded gates’.”
“Where’d he move?” Tommy asked.
“Hell if I know. Gene wrote something on his piece of firewood, “and hell if I care. And another thing, I’m not buying his private fashion brand, either. I’m half tempted to get a t-shirt. Just for a grin. Wear it to cookouts so people will ask, ‘Who’s that?’ but the grin wouldn’t be worth $65 plus shipping.”
“$65 for a t-shirt? You’re shitting us. ”
“I shit you not. If you want to save money, you can get a plain one, ‘designed by black designers’ mind you, in black or white, for $49.99.”
“Black designers came up with a plain t-shirt?”
“Yup. Or! for $165 you can get a hoodie, with a picture of…wait for it… Shaun King his own self on the front. Deal like that doesn’t just come along every day.” Gene said. “Glad to see this guy in the rear view mirror. And you, Roy? You been keeping up with Oprah.
Roy Sequoia chuckled, “Oprah Winfrey. Looked her up a few times since the WAZ Awards. More than I care to admit if the truth be told. Far as money and houses go, she’s still got thousands-of-millions of dollars, still able to look at the camera and play the downtrodden black person, but I misspoke last year when I said she owned six mansions. I have no idea how many mansions she owns. Her California place ‘The Promised Land?’ That used to be on forty something acres but it turns out she’s bought up a couple adjoining properties, multimillion dollar ones, from other rich people. Those properties have mansions on them, too. And guest houses, and stables, and all that, so now she’s sitting on seventy acres of the most prime real estate in America plus other mansions around the country. I’ve still got my white skin like Oprah said, but watching her for maybe twenty whole seconds interviewing the royals I had an epiphany. ‘Life is short and I ain’t that tall.’ I says to myself, “Roy you’re not living your best life watching this horse maure.” That’s when I decided to toss it into the bonfire and not drag it along on a fresh, new trip around the sun on the blue marble.”
At that point, all eyes turned to Sonny, who’d researched a media ‘black-out’ hero called Random for the WAZ last year. “First off,” Sonny said, “I guess I should apologize to everybody, especially Tim, for going off about this. There’s just so many of these goddam sons of bitches it got to me but I shouldn’t have taken it out on you-all.”
“Water under the dam, Sonny.” Tim said, “You can let that one go.”
“That’s the ticket. Let it go.” Gene put in. “Could happen to any volatile, knuckle-dragging, redneck.”
“So Sonny,” Tony said, “you’ve been watching Random, haven’t you?”
Sonny sighed. “It’s like I got to get me into one of them 12-step programs to quit looking at that shit. Every day, sometimes a couple times a day. I look it up and there’s Random. Random attack on an 70-year-old nurse. Pushed her down at a bus stop and kilt her. Random attack: four year old punched in the face. Random attack: beat the shit out of a woman on the subway platform-on camera. Random stabbed a guy in the leg. Then stabbed another ‘un. This week Random pushed an Asian woman onto the subway tracks and the train runt her over and kilt her. And they never—the media—no matter whether they claim to be liberal or conservative—never mention the race of the attacker when the attacker’s black. Never mention the victim’s race if they’s white or black or Hispanic. Only if they’re Asian. I dunno why but when they’s Asian, the papers go all apeshit how terrible these attacks on Asians are. But they don’t say who’s doing the attacks! It’s like when a kid does something wrong in school, and the teacher knows who done it, but instead of sending out the bad kid, they lecture the whole class while the bad kid just laughs.
Before we started this, I never thought about it. Now, any time I see Random Attack I just figure the attacker’s a black guy.”
Tim said, “That’s a racist assumption, Sonny.”
“No shit, Tim. Couple hunnert racist attacks by young black guys punching old white people on camera and I’m the racist. Tell you whut though, it is a black guy just about every damn time. The only ones who point it out is in the comments. Somebody says, “Pat I think I solved the puzzle.” or, “Let me guess…” or “It was the Amish.´ or “Oh look, another white supremacist attack.” or “He was just jogging.” That’s what they’re talking about. Random memes. Now they’re turning off the comments, ‘cause there’s so many like that. The only surprise is if Random ain’t black. And the government just keeps letting ‘em to do it over and over again.
During Covid the Government set Random up in apartments on the Upper West Side in New York City all last year. You know what it cost to live at those places? None of us could afford it. And when Random attacks somebody there, they’s back to the street the next day. Some of ‘em got a hunnert prior arrests.
Why I look at it anymore, I don’t know. I don’t even live down there but it bothers me. Maybe whut I’m waitin’ for is ol ‘Random Attack’ to start meeting up with ‘Random Defense’. See those people down in America take their neighborhood’s back. ‘Till then, I want to let it go. Think I need a bigger piece of wood.
“How ‘bout you, Ira.” Roy said, “You been keeping up with Ibram Kendi? “
“We don’t go out for coffee,”Ira said. “buy I do check in every month or so. The race hustler system’s going off the boil, like you guys said but he’s still working what’s there like a rented mule. Knocking back five figures for an hour screen session speaking fee, Boston college professor, book royalties, ten million from Jack Dorsey to Kendi’s ‘Center for Anti-Racist Research’…oh! and he got a MacArthur ‘Genius Award’ in 2021. $625,000.”
“Catch me I’m falling down.” Al said. “Isn’t this the guy who tells people, “In order to be truly anti-racist you also have to be truly anti-capitalist.”? And he’s gobbling money like he’s in the hot dog eating contest at Coney Island on the Fourth of July?”
Ira nodded, “No clue where he lives. Doubt it’s Roxbury or Central. That much money would buy two houses—median average—in most states. Here’s a funny thing, speaking of houses, Ibram used house ownership in his ‘Anti-racist’ hash as an example of how white people have it better than blacks. He said an example of racial inequity is 71 percent of white families lived in owner occupied homes compared to 45 percent of Latinos and 41 percent of black families. If there was equity whites, blacks, and Hispanics would all have the same level of home ownership. No context served with dinner.”
“Um, if those numbers are correct, how much context do you need, Ira?”
“Well, Tim, a lot of the time it’s not what people say, it’s what they leave out.”
“You mean what’s in the white space.” Gene put in.
Everybody snickered, “God, you’re a trouble maker.” Ira said, “But yeah. The white space. Which, in this case, is a couple things.
Like where people live for one: Houses in rural America are way cheaper than houses in a city so you’d expect more rural people own their own house than city people, and they do. 81 percent of rural families own homes compared 58 percent of urban people. Which demographic lives out in the sticks? Rural America is over 78 percent white, 8.6 percent Hispanic, less than 8 percent black.
Region makes a difference: Your average houses in California or the northeast are way higher than houses in South Dakota or Nebraska.
For three: what about the Asians? 60 percent of Asians own their own homes. The reason they don’t own more houses than anybody is 40 percent of them live in California or New York where home ownership is below the national average.
Other reasons might be: if people are immigrants, how long have they been in America and do they speak the language? Far as Asians, the ones that have been here more than 20 years—75 percent of those guys own their own homes. Plus Asians are renowned for establishing strong family and community support networks. That makes it more likely they can get a co-signer on a house loan. Plus having an education is a huge advantage when you’re buying a house. What race has more bachelor’s degrees than any other? Asians. They’re rocking it. To Kendi, though, it’s all because of an institutionally racist system created by oppressive white men.”
“Oh, and lest I forget, in November,2021, Ibram claimed that a third of white students pretend to be minorities on their college applications.”
“Why would they do that?” Tommy asked.
“Obviously,” Ira said. “They think they’ve got a better chance of getting in. Also, they’d be eligible for some of that minorities only support money.”
“Let me get this straight.” Al said, “Mr. Systemic Racism says white people are pretending to be minorities to better their chances? Doesn’t that blow his whole victimhood narrative out his ass?”
“Apparently Boston College professors take a while to figure things like that out. When he did he took the tweet down but lots of people were making fun of him by then.” Ira looked around,“Soooooo, being that life is short as Roy mentioned, I believe I’ll stop wasting mine looking at what Ibram has to say, or not say.” Ira took up a piece of wood and scribbled something.”
“This guy that gave Kendi $625,000, where’d he get his money?”
Without looking up Ira said, “Real estate.”
Cosmo Fury having recently stepped out for a doobie, and to start the bonfire, was absorbed in figuring out a tree’s life story through grain patterns on a piece of wood, ”Here’s compression wood so the prevailing wind came from this side of the tree. You can tell from the angle of this knot, too. This here used to be a branch growing outside the tree, then it broke off and was an eye where the tree could look out at the world. Then the tree grew around the broken place until it couldn’t see out anymore. When it burns this will be an eye again. A dragon’s eye that glows brighter than the other wood. Tree consciousness comes and goes. A sap sucker made these holes, and ate the bugs that ate the sap. Lot of animals called this tree home. I can’t talk about anybody else. I own my own place.”
“A yurt.” Gene said. “With no electricity.”
“Yeah, no electrical waves flowing through my head all the time. Two million years of tooth and claw to end up cooking our brains with 5G waves watching Robin DiAngelo tell us we’re fragile. I haven’t looked her up since last year but I’ve thought about her, and the millions she’s made, book royalties, keynote speaker circuit, and her three houses. Lot of money in victimhood. Even when the victims are other people if you got the marketing savvy. But I think she’ll be out of the picture in a couple years. I saw a copy of her new book at the used bookshop on sale for fifty cents. Read a couple pages. It’s like hitting yourself with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop. People get tired of that.”
“Al read it on the internet so who knows. But she’s still knocking down five figures for a pre-recorded speech. Like 15 thousand for 90 minutes. Look at the growth rings here on this branch. Packed tight. This tree was over a hundred years old… Nobody paid it fifteen thousand for 90 minutes, or even thanked it for making oxygen for us all that time.”
Al Purdy didn’t have anything much new to report on Nikole Hannah-Jones. But we did get to a rehash and put the fun in dysfunctional of our group dynamic.
“Nikole’s still raking it in for now. Probably not as much, though.” Al said. “Got her balloon popped for a some outlandish things she wrote in her‘1619 Project.’ Tried to walk them back, said she didn’t say them, was misconstrued or something, that’s tough when it’s already in print. Still riding the black victimhood wave; Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur grant, college professor, book deals, grand education, expensive wardrobe, red snapper hairdo, and all. Still pushing for reparations for descendants of black slaves…got a question, Tim?”
“I do, Al. Have you ever read the ‘1619 Project?”
“Then how can you make up your mind about it when you haven’t even read it?”
“That’s a fair question. That’s what she says. And her supporters.” Al said. “ Let me ask you one. Did you ever read “The Way Things Ought to Be” by Rush Limbaugh?”
“Oh for God’s sake. Tell me you’re not trying to compare Nikole Hannah-Jones to Rush Limbaugh.”
“Sure I am. And you didn’t answer the question. So I will. You didn’t read it. Neither did I. For the same reasons I didn’t read Nikole. They’re peas in a pod her and Limbaugh. The Way Things Ought to Be—in black and white.”
“Al,” Roy said. “Has Nikole come up with a figure of how much reparations would cost?”
“Not that I could find. Other people’s numbers are all over the map. Low end’s over a trillion, top end is up to 17.1 trillion.”
“Trillion? With a ‘T’?”
“Yes, Roy. Trillion, Even the low end would pay off all student loans in America. Or fix all the roads and bridges in the interstate highway system. Or get clean water to cities where kids are drinking water with lead in it.
Nikole still says the Federal government, not white people, would foot the reparations bill with taxes. And she looks right at the talking head reporter and says something like, “Everybody pays taxes, right?” and the talking head just nods like a bobble head.”
“Most people do pay taxes, don’t they Al?”
Al rolled his eyes. “Jesus Christ! 61 percent of American households didn’t pay Federal Taxes in 2020. People who want reparations say more Americans favor them now than ten years ago. Why should slackers who aren’t paying now care if there’s reparations? Under Nikole’s version of ‘The Way Things Ought to Be’ the 39 percent who do pay get to watch the government hand black people hundreds of thousands each while the taxpayers get buried under a national debt that’ll increase 50 percent overnight, all while inflation, housing, and food prices are going through the roof.”
Still no reparations for white, Asian, Hispanic, and other immigrants who built the infrastructure of this country. Still doesn’t want to hear our stories. Still doesn’t want to talk about three quarters of a million dead in the Civil War, all those families who lost their farms and futures because their men were dead or couldn’t work a farm because they were amputees. Fighting the bloodiest war in it’s history for people of another race? Is there anything like that in any other country anywhere in history?”
“Reparations pushers talk about Jews and Native Americans getting reparations. They say,”There are precedents.” but somehow never talk about how that’s worked out, who won, who lost. How the money went to lawyers and bankers and millionaires. How anti-Semitism sky rocketed in Eastern Europe because of reparations, while people who were supposed to get the money got shafted.”
Al wrote, “Rich Greedy Sons of Bitches!” on his piece of wood, and showed it around. He said, “You can bet the rich want reparations because they’ll end up with the money and they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.”
Tommy O’Brien held up a piece of fresh, fragrant yellow cedar he’d shaded with a wood burning tool from the almost white of the cedar at one end to, shou sugi ban black at the other.
“Other parts of the race hustler industry may be slowing down,” he said, “but selling colorism is like printing money. It’s sad. Not just black people bleaching their skin trying to look white, but buying into—and I mean buying, Jack—into what a lifetime of television’s convinced them successful white people live like. Watch some of those rap videos with light skinned women in their underwear dancing around with bleached blonde hair. Colorism’s not about white culture, or black culture, it’s corporate culture selling stereotypes, “Buy crap you don’t need with money you don’t have.” and feel bad about yourself because almost no one’s ever going to have those big cars, mansions, swimming pools, yachts like these posers in the videos…you won’t see them dancing around in Cosmo’s yurt, or Ira’s timber frame, or Sonny’s trailer, or Sven’s longliner….”
Sven took a sip of Aquavit, “Yah, if they’re in their underwear they can come out on the boat with me and Ole when we get our Norwegian victim reality show.”
Roy pointed out, “They’d have to dance fast to keep warm out in Icy Strait.”
“You bet they would. We gonna get a million views on that one. Make a whole bunch of them videos, make commercials, maybe get a computer store where we monetize our brand.”
“What can you sell off a fishing boat, Sven? Norwegian wool sweaters and rain gear?”
“Tim’s right, man. Covering up the girls would lose your audience.”
“Nah, it’s the internet. A guy can sell anything on the internet. They sell ear wax and toe jam. Last week I see guy selling condoms on the internet.”
“Jeez,” That’s genius, Sven. You could sell ‘Norwegian Fisherman Condoms.’” Gene said, “Think of the marketing!” Norwegian Fisherman Condoms: They already smell like fish.”
“Patent that. It’s a gold mine.”
“Skin bleaching isn’t just black people, you know.” Tim said. “Lots of white women bleach their assholes.”
That brought the WAZ to a standstill.
“What did you say?”
“Yup,” Sonny said. “Tim’s right. Bleached butthole. It’s a thing. And women that do it blame men. Say men want a bleached butthole like the porno stars got. Celebrity women talk about it in interviews. They can even pick how light they want the brown eye.”
“I don’t even want to know where you guys came across this, but it’s proof positive this species is on the way out. Bleached hair, bleached skin, bleached assholes at the same time everybody’s saying how we should all love diversity…what’s next for God’s sake?”
“Bleached twats.” Sonny said. “That’s a thing, too.”
Roy nodded, “Serves me right for asking.”
It being close to time to call back the sun, Sonny and Tim went to stoke the fire.
Roy looked at Jake Paresky. “Well Jake, any updates on wokism at the San Diego Unified School District before we go out?”
Jake shook his head. “Not much. To be fair, it’s not just San Diego, a lot of California school districts have more important things to think about than half the kids below standards in pretty much every academic arena. Changing the names of schools named after white men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John Muir, and Paul Revere is a high priority for instance.”
“Yep.” And mandating children of color aren’t academically accountable for missed work or bad behavior is a priority, and districts changing the grades system to omit D‘s and F’s. Fed-up parents just voted out San Francisco’ School Board in a recall. Anyone want to guess who the President of the School Board blamed when they gave her the boot?”
Gene raised his hand, “I know this sounds all crazy and that but, I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess ‘white men.’”
“Better than that, Gene. ‘White Supremacists!’”
“San Francisco’s a hotbed of white supremacists.” Ira said. “I knew it.”
“Anyway, it was Asian parents, not the Proud Boys that drove the recall.” Jake said, “Asians want academics over Marxism and Critical Race Theory. Far as San Diego goes; San Diego County lost more than 17,000 public school kids. Figure $10 K per kid, that’s $170 million gone down the road. The schools are blaming Covid but so many parents are taking other options, especially home school, the schools are freaking out. Want to know how freaked out they are?”
“HOW FREAKED OUT ARE THEY?” we all shouted.
“One elementary school principle from the San Diego Unified School District told parents” It is illegal to keep your child at home without the proper home school curriculum standards-based lessons, and direction from a credentialed program service provider.”
“What? Is that real?”
“No! And she didn’t stop there. She said schools might not have room for families that changed their minds. She also said home school families that, “…have not provided the school with an affidavit of proof in an accredited home school program would be subject to investigation from Child Welfare Services.”
“She’s going to sic Child Welfare Services on home school parents?” Ira asked. “Can she do that?”
“No! No. No. No. That’s just another threat. The icing on the cake was, in the same note, she let it slip that this was about money.” Our staffing is completely dependent on opening of school enrollment.” The cherry on top was that she wrote, “We really do hope that all families give our public schools a chance to show what we can do!”
“See this wooden ruler? I’ve had it ever since I the day I started as a teacher in San Diego, almost forty years ago. Tonight, I’m going to burn it up, and let it go.”
The door opened, Sonny stepped in with a light dusting of snow on his Elmer Fudd hunting hat, “Fire’s ready whenever you are.”
At that there was a general bustle pulling on of woolen coats and sweaters, knitted hats, heavy boots, and mitts, then went out in the dark to stand in a circle around the orange flames rising chest high now, the only light for miles around, projecting fantastic shapes and shadows of giant coastal trolls—those are our shadows—flickering against the backdrop of our much loved coniferous crankie theater dusted with snow. There we stood, each with his thoughts of the old year, no one speaking. Old winter forest, dark to our backs, warm firelight beards and faces. One by one we threw in our pieces of wood, and watched them catch, sending sparks high overhead to meet the new year.